Picks and Pans Review: The Shell Game

UPDATED 05/10/1982 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/10/1982 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Stephen Kiesling

The author grew up in Palo Alto and followed his sister to Yale in 1976. She was on the rowing team there, and he went out for crew too. This book tells of his four years as a willing and eager victim of a growing obsession with rowing. For the oarsman, dedication must be absolute, Kiesling writes. "I sometimes think that is what we were trained to do—to endure so much that races came easy by comparison." Kiesling's was one of the best Yale crews in decades. But in his junior year, his shell just barely failed to beat Harvard in their bitter annual regatta. This most appealing book is, in fact, haunted by a feeling of loss. Kiesling found that "once one is beyond a certain level of commitment to the sport, life begins to seem an allegory of rowing rather than rowing an allegory of life." (Morrow, $10.50)

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